Netflix’s new limited series The vigilant has been gaining a lot of traction online. One of those reasons is that the series is inspired by a true story. This is not unusual for the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, who has often drawn inspiration from real-world events for his other projects, such as american horror story. As such, fans may be curious as to what the real story behind it is. The vigilant is and how accurately the series tells it.
The story began when Derek and Maria Broaddus received a threatening letter shortly after closing on their new $1.3 million home in Westfield, New Jersey. The letter was sent within days of the closing and included the following:
“657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades and as his 110th birthday approaches, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for his second coming,” it read. “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched it in the 1960s. Now it’s my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I’m going to check.”
It is certainly a creepy message and was followed by a subsequent letter. This rather chilling letter managed to name the children of the Broaddus couple. In fact, he specifically inquired about “the young blood I asked for.” So, as Reeves Weideman, who wrote about the story in a 2018 New York magazine article, pointed out, it wasn’t long before they contacted the couple who sold them the house, John and Andrea Woods.
In fact, they confirmed receiving a similar letter from “The Watcher.” But they insisted that it was the only time they had received something like this in the 23 years they have lived in the house. As such, they threw it away. But given the new circumstances, they accompanied Maria Broaddus to visit Detective Leonard Lugo. The detective warned her not to tell any of her neighbors about the letters, because now they had become suspects.
At one point, the Broadduses apparently filed a lawsuit against the Woodses for not disclosing the letter they received before they moved. However, a judge dismissed the complaint, and the Woodses declined to comment on the matter. As for the Broaddus family, they received yet another letter some two and a half years after the first. He said:
“To vile and spiteful Derek and his wench wife Maria” and further, “657 Boulevard survived their attempted assault and stood their ground with their army of supporters who barricaded their gates. My soldiers on the Boulevard followed my orders to the letter. They fulfilled their mission and saved the soul of 657 Boulevard on my orders. Everyone hail the Watcher!!!”
A number of suspects have been identified over the years by a private investigator and two former FBI agents. One of these last agents, Robert Lenehan, concluded that “El Vigilante” must be an elderly person. More specific suspects included the Broadduses’ next-door neighbor: Michael Langford. However, he or his family were never charged. And, perhaps most surprisingly, the Broadduses were accused of having forged the letters. But nothing has proven that possibility either.
Ultimately, the Broadduses moved out of 657 Boulevard six months after the letters began. However, it was not until March 2019 that the house was finally sold. They left the following note for the new owners:
“We wish you nothing but the peace and quiet we once dreamed of in this house.” They also included a photograph of “The Watcher” handwriting. This way, if the letters were to continue, the new owners would know what to look for. However, it appears that they were never contacted by the mysterious figure. So for the time being it seems that the problem has stopped. As for the Netflix series, the Broadduses were only slightly involved. They weren’t paid enough to cover their losses on the house, which they sold for less than they paid for, plus they asked that their real names be left with cast members who didn’t look like them. The investigation remains open despite being inactive.
Ryan Murphy Limited Series The vigilant is currently available to stream on Netflix.